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English

The English Department teaches students to value, explore, and analyze a wide range of literature and to express their own ideas. In class, students engage in deep thought and conversation, showing a commitment to their own learning and a willingness to challenge themselves intellectually and creatively.

Throughout their time at Miss Hall’s, students develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

Reading through a diverse curriculum, students learn to engage in deep thought and conversation, to make connections between their reading and the larger world and to connect with their scholarly community by entering a lively conversation with their peers and teachers. Students graduate as skilled readers and writers who engage confidently in further studies and in all aspects of their lives beyond the classroom.
 

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English Courses

List of 13 items.

  • English I - Identity and Voice in Literature and Writing

    Students in English I study a range of poetry and prose.
    Homer’s The Odyssey, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and
    Juliet, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching
    God serve as anchor texts, supported by a selection of short
    fiction and poetry. Class work focuses on developing skills in
    literary analysis through various methodology including
    argumentative writing, creative expression, project-based
    learning, and class discussion. Students learn basic research
    skills and become familiar with library resources. Developing
    organizational skills and learning to use one’s voice in studentdirected
    conversations are also integral pieces of the English I
    curriculum.
    (1 credit, full year)
  • English II - Landscape and Place: Writing and Art in New England

    Students in English II will read a range of literature that
    focuses largely on work by local and regional figures
    throughout history. We will examine authors such as H.D.
    Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, W. E. B. Du Bois,
    Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. We will build on the
    foundational writing skills established in English I as we move
    through more challenging literary content and deeper
    discussions. Through class participation, presentations, and
    projects, students become more confident in their voices and
    the course progresses towards an increasingly student-led
    discussion format. Students also grow in their research skills,
    deepen their engagement with library resources, and produce
    creative writing across genres.
    (1 credit, full year)
  • English III - Modern and Contemporary Global Voices

    English III provides the opportunity for students to deepen the
    complexity, depth and sophistication of their reading practice,
    writing process, and research skills in an environment of
    increasing independence. To support this growth, English III
    follows a model of “flex teaching” in which two sections meet
    at the same time and share the expertise of two teachers. This
    arrangement allows for flexible grouping and collaborations
    among both students and teachers. The English III curriculum
    includes literature of all genres and emphasizes a diversity of
    voices. In the second semester, students undertake a projectbased
    approach to independent, student-driven collaborations
    on novellas of their choosing. The year ends with the
    production of a portfolio of personal writing that supports
    college essay writing in the fall of senior year.
    (1 credit, full year)
  • English IV Electives

    English IV electives all include individualized writing
    instruction to improve students’ analytical writing and help
    form a strong writing process. Instructors also emphasize
    student-led discussion, careful reading practices, high-caliber
    research skills, and collaboration.
  • English IV - The Body in Society

    In what ways does the public dictate the value of our
    bodies? In what spaces are our bodies allowed and not
    allowed? Are our bodies and ourselves one in the same?
    This course explores gender, race, size, body image, public
    health, and other issues regarding the physical self in society.
    Readings include contemporary work by Eula Biss, Claudia
    Rankine, and Maggie Nelson, as well as historical texts across
    genres. Additionally, media covering current social issues
    informs students’ inquiry into myriad topics and concerns as
    we explore what Biss means when she claims that “we owe
    each other our bodies.”
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - Digital Witness- Humanity in a Digital World

    do we represent ourselves in different digital contexts? Do we
    really still need to learn facts if we can easily look them up our
    phone? What is writing and authorship online in an age of
    remix? Is privacy gone forever? This class explores these and
    many other student questions about what it means to be a
    human being in an increasingly digital world. Our work will
    examine a wide breadth of materials from our daily lives:
    fiction and non-fiction, critical essays and analyses, transmedia
    storytelling, games, video, and more. We will write,
    collaborate, and create in order to address a variety of
    topics/concerns using class and online discussion, visual
    projects, presentations, and analytical papers.
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex: Gender, Genetics, and Greek Drama

    Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex was published in 2002 to great acclaim. New York Times reviewer Laura Miller labeled the novel “a colossal act of curiosity, of imagination and of love.” With an intersex protagonist who transitions from female to male, one might reduce the book simply to a lesson on gender identity, but the text invites a much closer analysis. The tightly-woven text delves into the science of genetic mutations and topics of genocide, immigration, race in America, gender stereotypes, sexual orientation, Greek theater, ethics, prejudice, fate, and more. As we move through this primary text in our class, we will read nonfiction essays, poems, and scientific research to deepen our discussions.
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - Translations

    Translations is a course that capitalizes on the cultural and
    linguistic richness of the Miss Hall’s School community. The
    class will read English-language translations of novels, short
    fiction, and poetry originally written in languages spoken by
    members of the class or languages of cultural significance or
    interest to class members. The syllabus is, therefore, a flexible
    and collaborative product of the students and their teachers.
    The class will focus on close readings of these texts while also
    engaging in broader thinking about the nature of language and
    cross cultural communication. Students will complete
    collaborative projects of their own design. Texts may include
    Why Translation Matters and other readings in the theory of
    translation, In Other Words (trans. from Italian), Nineteen
    Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (trans. from Chinese), Eve Out
    of Her Ruins (trans. From French), as well as poetry and short
    texts translated from Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Korean,
    Japanese, and Thai.
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - Contemporary and Diverse Voices in Poetry

    This course seeks to interrupt and revise the traditional canon
    and to explore the ways in which the landscape of poetry is
    already being reimagined and enlivened. A blend of critical
    and creative writing, it invites students to enter into the world
    of contemporary literature as both readers and producers of
    poetry. The course focuses on contemporary texts by poets
    with a with range of poetic styles. These include Four-Legged
    Girl, by Diane Seuss, Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, by
    Ross Gay, and The Tulip Flame, by Chloe Honum, as well as
    work by poets we will put in conversation together as a
    learning community. Students work on close reading a broad
    range of work, deepening their learning about poetic craft, and
    writing both critically and creatively in response. In addition to
    seminar discussion and craft talk, the course asks students to
    write their own poetry and to participate in frequent poetry
    workshops.
    (1/2 credit, second semester)
  • English IV - Contemporary Science Fiction & Fantasy

    In recent years, there has been an explosion of fresh, new
    stories in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy. These
    texts are full of action, aliens, spaceships, and superpowers and
    are being told in the voices of women, people of color, and the
    LGBTQ+ community. These contemporary models of sci-fi
    and fantasy envision potential futures that allow us to explore
    the struggles of our own time by stepping out of it. Speculative
    fiction can allows us to imagine a future unbound by our own
    history. In this class, we will read diverse texts and engage
    with topics like time travel, cyborgs, Afrofuturism, Indigenous
    Futurism, and extraterrestrial life. Texts may include Nnedi
    Okorafor’s Binti, Tomi Adeyami’s Children of Blood and
    Bone, Liu Cixin’s The Wandering Earth, Rebecca Roanhorse’s
    Trail of Lightning and Leslie Nneka Arimah’s What It Means
    When a Man Falls from the Sky.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English IV: Fairy Tales in Cultural & Historical Context

    A child’s first exposure to story often begins with a fairy tale.
    From Little Red Riding Hood to Hansel and Gretel, fairy tales
    still delight young children who fear the cunning wolf or
    dream of the candy-covered cottage. But where did these tales
    come from? Who were they for and how have they changed?
    What purpose do they serve in our contemporary, global
    society? This course examines the history and cultural legacy
    of these stories that seem so simple at first glance. We will
    explore many versions of popular fairy tales across time
    periods and cultures, including a close look at the popular
    Grimm brothers and their original, non-Disney-fied tales; we
    will also read scholars’ critical essays to understand the
    significance and the contemporary social challenges
    surrounding these famous tales.
    (1/2 credit, second semester)
  • English IV - Literature & the Environment

    This course examines literature and humankind’s complex
    relationship with the planet. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author
    Elizabeth Kolbert wrote of our current generation, the
    Anthropocene, “It’s a new name for a new geologic epoch—
    one defined by our own massive impact on the planet. That
    mark will endure in the geologic record long after our cities
    have crumbled. “ In light of that thought, then, we will read
    texts across multiple genres and examine this “massive
    impact,” and the authors and artists who are grappling with the
    “marks” that humankind leaves in its wake. Can we possibly
    effect change? If so, then how? Toward this goal, possible
    readings might include texts from authors such as Margaret
    Atwood, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Kolbert, T.C. Boyle, Paolo
    Bacigalupi, and Barbara Kingsolver.
    (1/2 credit, second semester)
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  • Hallmark English IV: Literary Ghosts

    This full year course explores the ghosts of all shapes and sizes
    that haunt the pages of literature across time and cultures.
    Indeed, for centuries writers have used the idea of the ghost or
    spectre to express everything from an individual’s crippling
    guilt or undying love to the shameful past of an entire nation.
    In this Hallmark course, we will explore uncanny and
    unsettling intersections between the living and the dead in
    works of literature ranging from Homer and Shakespeare to a
    diverse collection of twentieth and twenty-first century writers.
    Students will work at high levels of independence as they
    engage with literary criticism, prepare for equitable and
    collaborative discussions, and write in different modes about
    such essential questions as: what does it mean for a person, a
    text, or a nation to be haunted? how do ghosts interrupt the
    present to teach the lessons of the past? and, in what way are
    we all haunted by the ghosts of our personal and cultural
    history? In the second semester, there will be significant
    culminating work that requires synthesis of primary and
    secondary sources, consideration of the historical arc addressed
    in the course, and sustained, independent inquiry. Authors may
    include: Homer, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte,
    Ben Okri, Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward, and Maxine Hong
    Kingston.
    (1 credit, full year)

English in Action

  • English Translations Presentations - 5.14.18

    Students in the English IV: Translations class challenged their classmates to create a 3-line poem using a selection of Chinese words.

    5 photo(s)

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  • Ninth Grade Power of Poetry - 5.3.18

    For the new Power of Poetry project, ninth grade students chose a topic for which they wanted to advocate, researched the topic, chose a poem that spoke to the topic, then wrote their own original poems.

    12 photo(s)

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  • Poetry Recitation - 4.30.18

    The English Department hosted its annual Poetry Recitation Contest on April 30 in Centennial Hall. Eighteen students recited poems in a schoolwide competition. Congratulations to Mariah Lewis ’18, Ingrid O’Dell ’19, Rea Rice ’20, and Chelsea Canal ’21, who won the grade-level competitions, and to Julie Xu ’18, who won the evening’s overall competition with her recitation of “My Chinese,” by Athena Chu.

    15 photo(s)

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  • Shakespeare and Company perform "Othello" - 3.28.18

    The MHS community was treated to a live performance of Shakespeare’s "Othello" by members of nearby Shakespeare & Company’s Northeast Regional Tour. After the performance, the actors engaged in a conversation with the students, discussing several themes related to the play. Freshwomen also participated in a performance workshop with the actors in the Woods Theater.

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Meet the Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Rebecca Cook-Dubin 

    English Department Chair
    Boston College - M.Ed.
    Dartmouth College - B.A.
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  • Monica  Kirschmann 

    English Teacher
    University of Chicago - M.A.
    Fordham University - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Emily Pulfer-Terino 

    English Teacher
    Syracuse University - M.F.A.
    Sarah Lawrence College - B.A.
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  • Julie Schutzman 

    English Teacher / Director of the Writing Center
    University of Pennsylvania - Ph.D.
    Brown University - A.M.
    Brown University - A.B.
    Read Bio
  • Richard Scullin 

    English Teacher
    Read Bio

News from the English Department

492 Holmes Road Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone: (413) 443-6401

About us

Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is a private, college preparatory, boarding and day high school for girls grades 9-12.
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